The Educational Testing Service announced this week that it will discontinue the practice of flagging the results of disabled students who receive special accommodations, such as extra time, on many of their standardized tests.

The change, which will apply to the Graduate Record Examinations, the Graduate Management Admission Test, the Test of English as a Foreign Language and Praxis, a test for teachers, is viewed as a victory by many in the disabled community.

The new policy becomes effective Oct. 1 and came as part of a settlement in a lawsuit filed two years ago by Mark Breimhorst, a man with no hands who believed he was denied admission into business schools because his test results indicated that he had received special accommodations on the management test.

Breimhorst charged ETS with violating state and federal anti-discrimination laws. The International Dyslexia Association and Californians for Disability Rights joined his suit.

“This is absolutely a step in the right direction,” said ETS spokesman Tom Ewing. “We are very pleased that we were able to respond to our disabled community.”

ETS maintains that the flagging policy did not break any laws.

But Ewing said, “It was never our intention to be stigmatizing for our disabled students.”

Virginia Grubaugh, assistant coordinator of Services for Students with Learning Disabilities at the University of Michigan, said the removal of flagging will be beneficial to the students with whom she works.

“Students who really need accommodations, it allows them to use those without feeling that someone is discriminating,” she said. “The accommodations that we afford to students are ones that are only meant to level the playing field.”

Jeanne Wilt, assistant dean of admissions and career development at the University”s Business School, said the new policy won”t make a difference in their admissions.

“It has no effect,” she said. “If you were to look at all the things we ask for on our application GMAT”s just one piece of all that.”

Having a disability “certainly doesn”t mean you”re not capable of taking on a leadership position,” Wilt said.

The standardized tests affected do not include those for medical or law school, as they are not part of ETS. A panel will be looking at applying the new policy to the Scholastic Aptitude Test, which is a part of ETS but is owned by College Board.

Regardless of whether the College Board decides to go along with the ETS policy, undergraduate admissions at the University will remain unchanged.

“Even though we may get flagging, people who are reviewing the applications never see it,” said admissions counselor Paul Fincannon.

But some people view flagging positively, feeling that it alerts admissions officers to the fact that the student has overcome obstacles to succeed.

“If that is the case, I don”t think removing the flag will dismiss those benefits,” Ewing said, adding that a disability will likely show up elsewhere in an application.

Grubaugh said she is “less apt” to see flagging as a positive, as admissions officers aren”t legally allowed to ask a student if they have a disability.

“It just creates so much discomfort,” she said.

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